Thursday, June 28, 2012

ADAM AND EVE...AND THAT TREE-Online Exhibition

                                   In The Garden of Eden Oil on linen 50 x 94 cm 2009
                                                                     Previous post HERE

Regular readers may have previously seen, what I call, my Adam and Eve paintings. But, they will not have seen them all together.

I am currently working on a painting which is inspired by ideas of galactic horizons. So, in the meantime here's an online 'exhibition' of my Adam and Eve paintings! I really enjoy this small series.

The story of Adam and Eve is shared by the three Abrahamaic religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Note the word shared! Yes, we are connected through shared stories, across time, religions and cultures. Stories are like branches of trees, reaching out, rustling together, shedding leaves, dropping seeds, blooming with flowers, reaching for light. Stories are also like the roots of trees, burrowing down to unseen depths, entwining with other roots, anchoring a tree, and giving it strength and sustenance.

Stories can anchor us at the same time as giving seed to relationships, understanding and compassion. However, the light of potential, depends on how willing we are to explore the metaphors, nuances and symbols embedded in age-old stories.

In The Garden of Eden [above] the figures of Adam and Eve are like tree trunks, with branches emanating from their heads and roots radiating from their feet. Life flows through them and beyond. Tree branches meet and cross over, forming a sacred feminine symbol of fertility and life. The trees are symbolic of the age-old transcultural/religious motifs of the tree-of-life and the tree-of-knowledge.

The Colour of Knowledge Oil on linen 62 x 82 cm 2009
Previous post HERE

The Colour of Knowledge depicts the creation of Eve as she is formed from a sleeping Adam's rib. However, for me, this is the 'birth' of the feminine force which exists within us all, male and female. It is the force of life, which knows no gender. In this painting Eve, whilst still connected to Adam, takes from the tree-of-knowledge. Until this moment, the entities called Adam and Eve existed in a whiteness where presence was felt, but not visible. Indeed, once Eve took from the tree, they realised their nakedness and covered themsleves. I imagine that with the arrival of antimonies, represented by the visibility of gender differences, the world cascaded into colour with its multitude of hues and shades. Colour is symbolic of knowledge existing in the distance and spaces between opposites.


                                                   Paradise Oil on linen 52 x 82 cm 2009
                                                                     Previous post HERE

Paradise is a painting where I explore the concept of knowledge as paradise. In this painting Adam and Eve are connected to a cascading multicoloured tree. It is both the tree-of-knowledge and the tree-of-life. The idea that paradise is a 'place' in the outer physical world is enticing. But, I think the promise of paradise, through knowledge, is really about an internal experience deep within our psyche.



She was not made out of his head to surpass him, nor from his feet to be trampled on, but from his side to be equal to him, and near his heart to be dear to him. [Jamieson-Fausset Brown Bible  Commentary] Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2009
Previous post HERE

The title of the painting above says it all really!

The story of Adam and Eve is often used to justify a blanketing and suffocating blame game against women. After all, its all Eve's fault Adam was lead astray and evil entered the world! The blame game is often undertaken under the guise of humour, but insidious infiltrations into cultural psyche have been dangerous. However, for me at least, the introduction of evil is merely another representation of the arrival of antimonies. In order to know who we are, we need to know who we are not. Antimonies help us work this out!

The shared story of Adam and Eve is rich with metaphor and symbolism. It is a story which can be explored time and time again. The ability to know who we are, by also knowing who we are not, is a journey not only for the individual, but also the human race. Its called experience, in all its physical, emotional, psychic, spiritual dimensions. It is unfortunate that literalness often stymies the journey, by creating roundabouts with hidden exits. I believe these exits are revealed with a curiosity for symbolism, which ultimately takes you/us on a journey with no end. Like a tree, this journey branches out and digs below, as it seeds and blooms, connects and responds. Knowledge is not static, but alive.

NEWS
  • My entry for the $25,000 Mandorla Art Prize in Perth is a finalist. The award is announced 10 August. I will upload an image once the exhibition is live!
  • Also, my book FOR EVERYONE is moving along! Check it out HERE
 

Cheers,
Kathryn


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

FAVOURITES

                                                   Paradise oil on linen 62 x 82 cm 2009


I am working on a new painting, which is coming along quite well. I've had my moments of joy, despair, frustration and excitement. Yes, a mixture of emotions, but that's normal. At the moment I am not sure what I am going to do next, but I know the painting is not quite finished. So, I wait, look, wonder.

Why did I choose the title of FAVOURITES? Two reasons. One is that I thought I'd list the top four favourite posts...according to the number of people who have visited them. Secondly, I thought I'd upload 4 paintings I personally have grown very fond of.


TOP FOUR POSTS

1. AIRSPACE and PHANTOMS
Written 24 August 2010, this post discusses water!

2. FOOD- A FANTASY IN THE FUTURE?
Written  21 November 2010, with a 'picture' of the future where food and fantasy play together!

3. OUROBOROS
Written 18 March 2012, this post discusses age-old symbols and connections with cosmology. An auroboros is an age old-symbol of a snake eating its own tail. In my painting I use the age-old symbol of the tree-of-life to create the snake's body.

4. LISTENING TO THE STILLNESS
Written 28 June 2010, this post discusses the still spot inside the vortex....and more!


FOUR OF MY FAVOURITE PAINTINGS

  • Paradise [painting at the top of the page] This is hanging my bedroom at the moment . It causes me to stop...and think. The word paradise alludes to the Garden of Eden. But, this is just a metaphor for the paradise of knowledge, wonder and imagination. Click HERE to read my previous post. This painting is one of a group of Adam and Eve paintings.

                                              Ouroboros Oil on linen 122 x 153 cm 2012
    • Auroboros  This painting, of the age-old symbol of the snake eating its own tale, is one of my cosmic paintings. Yes, I have a few of them, as regualr readers will know The auroboros is used by modern cosmologists to visually 'describe' the realtionship beween the quantum and cosmic worlds. Please click HERE to read my previous post.

                          When I Was A Child I Dreamt I Could Fly Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2004

                                                       Homage Mixed Media on Paper 1991
        • Homage This is one of a series of paintings I created when I was pregnant with my first child. I exhibited them in an exhibition when my daughter was 3 months old. Some sold, but I am glad I have a few left for me!

        You can see more of my paintings on my website www.kathrynbrimblecombe-fox.com


        And, $oils Ain't $oils Anymore is currently hanging as a finalist in SCOPE Galleries inaugural Art and Environment Award. Click HERE for details
        Cheers,
        Kathryn

        Tuesday, June 12, 2012

        AD INFINITUM?

                                                         Ad Infinitum Oil on linen 50 x 50 cm

        So, will life continue ad infnitum?

        Ad infinitum is a Latin phrase meaning without end, without limit, never ending, to infinity.

        We know that human life started but a blip ago, when compared with the history of the universe. Yet, all of existence could come under the title of life....couldn't it? I suspect that the majority of human beings believe that human existence... now that it is here manifested in us thinking, breathing, bipeds...will continue ad infinitum. It's a tad scary to think otherwise! But, it depends in what form the ad finitum existence takes.

        To ensure the survival and continuance of the human race, are we propelling ourselves towards an 'existence' which muddies the word life? As we deal with seemingly ever increasing ecological and environmental issues, science seems to be proposing a kind of post-human existence which mixes us with machines. Drum roll.....cyborgs! 

        So, if we annihilate food producing land, contaminate oceans and air, destroy waterways...we can still exist! We can exist as cyborgs, who presumably are 'fed' by some kind of self replicating nanobot, injected at 'birth', to supply sustenance. These nanobots could be programmed to take our taste sensations from 'Mother's Milk' to grown up foods. The 'sensation' could be enhanced by watching re-runs of quaint old fashioned television shows like 'Master Chef'. These re-runs would be experienced via entertainment device implants.

        Is this kind of continuation of life wishful or nightmarish thinking? Is it abdicating responsibility to sustaining and nurturing life as we know it now? Are environmental, economic and sustainability issues becoming so overwhelming that a cyborgian existence seems like a good alternative? Is it too hard to imagine another kind of 'mutation', where thinking, imagination, and creativity cause transformation and transcendence as a physcial and spiritual whole human being, with only minor accoutrements? Indeed, as a cyborg a 'person' could live forever...ad finitum! The individual lives forever! But, what about the human race? 

        The merging of human and machine is called singularity. Last year I attended a presentation, by academic and clinical psychologist Dr. Glen Slater, where he explained that for some people singularity is an ultimate goal. He also described how reliance on technology, whilst beneficial in many areas, is also 'prepping' us for this merging of machine and human. Yes, artificial limbs, implants, pace makers, IUDs, etc are all helpful, even life saving devices. But, when there are suggestions that we can download our memories, possibly mixed with another's, into a new 'self' created from stem cells grown from our skin, 'life' gets interesting and peculiar! But, is it an inevitable phase of evolution? To understand the gravity of this question please listen to this TED talk ' 'Will Our Kids Be A Different Species' by Juan Enriquez, a leading world authority on the economic and political impacts of the life sciences. It's a great presentation.

        A post human state where 'we' might be cyborgs and/or a 'different species' involves a complex mixture of various types of technologies. But, is it inevitible? Worringly, Enriquez pointed out that since 2000 there has been a 78% increase in autism. I am not sure if this includes across the spectrum from aspergers to severe autism or just the latter. Whatever it is, it is significant. From my experience many people who fall in the autism spectrum have a great affinity with technology. Indeed, they prefer to relate to their gadgets, whether it's a camera [sorry cameras-they like to collect!], computers and other devices. But, have you noticed we are all [well an increasingly proportion of people] relating to devices in a way which is akin to emotional attachment. But, as we relate to the inanimate, what happens to our reltaionships with the animate...and indeed including our self?

        Regular readers will know, from my last post, that I attended the University of Queensland's Dean of Medicine's Lecture given by Prof. Michael Merzenich, Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience, University of California at San Francisco: Chief Scientific Officer, Posit Science. I first came across Prof. Merzenich in the fabulous book by Dr. Norman Doidge, The Brain That Changes Itself. With this lecture in mind, I think it's interesting that in his TED presentation Enriquez talks about 'rapid brain evolution' in regards to the trajectory things like the statistics on autism are perhaps suggesting.

        I could go on. It is a fascinating issue to think about.

        PAINTING AD INFINITUM

        In my new painting 'Ad Infinitum?' [above] I have used my much loved transcultural/religious tree-of-life, to suggest ongoing life forces across time. The circles seems to pulse and vibrate. The slightly changed hues in the colours, suggest tansformations and adaptions. Yet, the tree's 'vascular' qualities hold onto life systems. If existence is an ongoing rhythm of expansion and implosion, where does it place human life? Maybe we are destined to be half machine, half human...but then maybe not? Or, maybe 'life' will continue without us at some point in the future? The phrase ad infinitum does not seem to allude to a beginning...maybe life is a series of ad infinitum beginnings? Maybe some kind of a priori concept holds the clue?

                                                 Perpetual Beginning Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm
                                                                       Previous post HERE 
        NEWS
        Cheers,
        Kathryn
        www.kathrynbrimblecombe-fox.com

        Sunday, June 03, 2012

        THE MYTH OF ALCHEMY

        Murray Darling Currency Oil on linen 122 x 153 cm


        Alchemy, the medieval forerunner of chemistry, concerned with the transmutation of matter, in particular with attempts to convert base metals into gold or find a universal elixir:   [ http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/alchemy ]
        I am sure most readers will have an understanding of the alchemic myth. The idea that base metals could be transformed into gold or silver has fascinated me since I was a child, long before I realised these stories were more than just stories. Many of them were associated with greed, where wealth, of the economic kind, could be conjured out of thin air...or boring base metals. However, history's alchemists did lay the ground work for modern chemistry, when at some point, in the 18th century, science separated its processes from mythology and spirituality/religion.


                                                              Last Witness Oil on linen 50 x 50 cm

        I have previously written about the alchemic myth, in relation to my painting 'Last Witness' [Above]. This is what I wrote:
        Last Witness
        The red tree, representing the age-old transcultural/religious tree-of- life symbol, stands as the last witness to humankind’s prosaic mutation of the alchemic myth of transformation. At its most profound the myth can be understood as a transformation into transcendence. Humankind’s frantic desire to transform nature’s gifts into commodities, where the most significant value is economic, shatters the alchemic myth’s potential to reveal, and revel in, the many dimensions of the meaning of ‘value’.


        In ‘Last Witness’ the top part of the painting is a deliberately ambiguous ‘landscape’. Small brush strokes create a tapestry of colour which could be interpreted as sky, rain, a forest, land and water contours, and more. Towards the bottom half of the painting, these elements are transformed into another ambiguous ‘landscape’ created with small $ signs. When viewed from a distance these $ signs are not discernible, yet they become obvious when viewed up close. I am asking the question ‘Have we noticed?’


        There is hope though. The red tree, the last witness to plundering in the name of monetary value and progress, is surrounded by small white dots giving a halo-like, portal like, seemingly illuminative presence. The tree stands as witness, but also as guide and illuminator to other alternatives. The tree, as the tree-of-life, represents the vigour of life with its vascular like branches and its pulsating red. It beckons us to ask better questions. It provokes us into conversations where new perspectives are illuminated. It reminds us of the beauty we lose if one dimensional interpretations of value erode the fulsome capacities of transformation.

        Regular readers will know of my concerns about the rush to extract gas from coal seams and the massive increase in open cut mining, plus the enormous extraction, processing and export infrastructure needed to support all this activity. Is the planet a huge alchemist's cauldron? Are we all crossing our fingers that the processes of transformation from mineral to commodity, to energy, to money can be sustained? Seems to me that this kind of simple thinking... wishful thinking...verges on an archaic and vulgarised idea of alchemic transformation. I suspect post modernism's decline into slippery narcisistic tendencies has stirred and perpetuated a superficial, even glossy, notion of the vulgarised alchemic myth. In Novemeber 2008 I wrote a BLOG post called 'After The Implosion' where I discuss some of my thoughts about the role post modernism played in the GFC. I believe these insidious influences are still at play albeit under attack!

        So...maybe we just need to think differently. Easier said than done, you might say. But is it? Indeed, it might take effort, meaningful effort, but we can change the way we think, the way we interpret/question and react to data, information, experience... mythologies even. Last week I attended a fascinating lecture given by Prof. Michael Merzenich, Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience, University of California at San Francisco: Chief Scientific Officer, Posit Science. I first came across Prof. Merzenich in the fabulous book by Dr. Norman Doidge, The Brain That Changes Itself. Regular readers will remember I have written about this book a few times. Previous posts are HERE and HERE and HERE

        Modern research into brain plasticity is showing we can rewire, recalibrate our brains to overcome things like stroke, brain injury, ADHD and other problems which manifest in reductive physical and emotional capacities [even old age!]. Given this, it should be even easier to change a normal healthy brain to think differently, more tangentially, to see more links between things, disrupt automatic prejudicial thinking etc...shouldn't it? Can we stir imaginational capacities? Can we [re] awaken critical thinking abilities? Maybe the question 'can we' is wasting time, because it seems we need new and better questions to open new and better pathways for possible solutions to the world's economic and environmental issues NOW!

        I have read two articles in the last week that refer to thinking. They provide a glimmer of hope that new paradigms for knowledge creation, and how we relate to the planet and ourselves, are emerging. They are not without risk, but nothing ever is.The first was 'SCIENCE IS NOT ABOUT CERTAINTY: A PHILOSOPHY OF PHYSICS: A Conversation with Carlo Rovelli', in The Edge. The second was 'Craig Venter’s Bugs Might Save the World' by Wil S. Hylton, in the New York Times. Both fascinating articles, which in different ways gave breath to thinking, imagination, risk, joy and fun! Reading these after hearing Prof Merzenich's lecture really got me thinking!

        A one dimensional prosaic interpretation of the alchemic myth, can be eroded and reconstructed to become one of multi dimensions, where the processes of transformation are more about how the human race can change and grow, and less about how the human race simply uses the world.

        The painting below $oils Ain't $oils Anymore! is a finalist in SCOPE Galleries Art and Environment Award. Here's a link to my previous post for this painting. Briefly though, this painting and Murray Darling Currency [at the top of the page] each 'talk' about the prosaic alchemic myth, by questioning 'value'. In each, as in Last Witness, part of the landscape is created with small $ signs. In Murray Darling Currency the area of the Murray Darling is painted with small blue $ signs, playing with the word currency. The tree... the tree-of-life...creates the landscape of continent and sea as it cascades across the canvas. It seems to ask, is a $ value the only way to 'value' life? Maybe there are other ways, as well as monetry, that can be used to 'value'....which may help us to re-evaluate, re-configure, re-think how we also apply $ values? 

                                                  $oils Ain't $oils Anymore Oil on linen 70 x 100 cm

        Until next time!
        Kathryn
        www.kathrynbrimblecombe-fox.com